You probably heard that your first line of defense against ‘cold and flu’ like symptoms is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy.

Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity, but I find that shopping smart and nourishing body with the right food could do wonders against many diseases by boosting the immune system.

How to boost your immune system? Try these immune boosting foods:

RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU

My top 5 foods that are cheap and very easily accessible for regular use are:

Bone broth

…made out of organic grass fed cattle or pasture raised chickens.  No wonder grandma used to give you chicken soup as soon as you had the sniffles.  Bone broth is one of the most affordable foods and also the healthiest.

A study of chicken broth conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center investigated what it was in the soup that made it so beneficial for colds and flu.  They found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. [1]

How to use it?

You can use broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight between the meals as a nourishing drink.

immune boosting foods_1

Lemons

…are good source of Vitamin C, alkalizing, encourage healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, help to flush out toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function and stimulating your liver.

D-limonene found in lemons not only boosts immune system due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, but helps to fight cancer as well. [2]

How to use it?

Start your day with a warm glass of lemon water, add it to your green juice with a rind, use some of the lemon peel and white spongy inner parts of lemon on top of your salad or steamed vegetables.

immune boosting foods_2

Fermented Foods

…the inexpensive ultimate superfood.  “When you consume junk foods, certain bacteria flourish and produce endotoxins, which your immune system detects and, interpreting these endotoxins as an attack, responds with inflammation”, says Dr. Mercola. Your body changes its metabolism to redirect energy for “battle.”

The result is overproduction of insulin, increased fat storage, dampening of your appetite control signals, eventually obesity and suppressed immune system.  Fermented vegetables are one of the most palatable fermented foods that can provide you with a robust dose of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, for a fraction of the cost, keeping your gut healthy and boosting the immune system.

How to use it?

Eat it as a side dish, add to healthy salads, dips and bone broth soup, on a wrap or sandwich or drink the juice the vegetables were fermenting in.  The most widely known examples are – yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, lassi, kvass, miso, and natto.

immune boosting foods_3

Garlic

…is a potent onion relative that contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers found that garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. [3]

Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chow down more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.

How to use it?

Your optimal dose: Two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.

immune boosting foods_4

Sprouts

…are another authentic “super food” that many overlook.  They are cheap and it’s fun to grow your own on the windowsill.  “A powerhouse of nutrition, sprouts can contain up to 30-50 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your own garden, and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from the foods you eat” Dr. Greger points out. [4,5]

How to use it?

Eat as a snack, great in stir fry, salads, for wraps, a powerful juice source, a friend of soup, necessary on sandwiches, and the breakfast of champions.

Other great options of foods to boost immune system:

Ginger and turmeric

…are great spices to reduce inflammation. Use in tea, smoothies, green juices, stir-fries even in deserts.

immune boosting foods_5

Fish and shellfish

Selenium and zinc, plentiful in shellfish helps white blood cells produce cytokines — proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Fish is rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation.

Use: Enjoy it few times a week as a main meal, on salads or making seafood stews.

Mushrooms

Studies show that the beta-glucans in mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive.  Many medicinal mushrooms have strong anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. This is a good thing when you have an infection or want to prevent getting sick.

Use: Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch; experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to 1 ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits. Add a handful to pasta sauce, sauté with a little oil and green vegetables and add to eggs, top salads or make a smoothie with reishi mushrooms and raw cacao.

immune boosting foods_6

Honey

…has a long medicinal history.  Many people swarm to honey, especially raw organic, for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Use buckwheat or Manuka honey, which has the highest amount of antibacterial and antiviral qualities, says Dr. Ariane Cometa (family doctor from Maryland, USA).  You may add a teaspoon into a tea, porridge or anywhere you desire some sweet taste instead of simple sugars.  For an extra boost, add fresh lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon.

immune boosting foods_7

Sweet potato

Experts have long known that vitamin A plays a role in infection. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired immunity and increased risk of infectious disease.  Sweet potato is a rich source of Vitamin A, so it is beneficial to eat about a half-cup serving, which delivers only 170 calories but 40% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A as beta-carotene.

Use: you might want to save them for dessert or a side dish, or as a main dish with other veggies like squash or pumpkin! Think orange when looking for other foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, squash, and pumpkin.

immune boosting foods_8

Cruciferous vegetables

…boost the liver’s ability to flush out toxins and provide a good environment for immune cells that live there.

Eat: kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower several times a week.  Steam, sauté or stir-fry.  Use as a side dish, salad or make a soup.

Herbs:

thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano — while spicing things up, you’ll also get an added kick of immune-busters, too.  You can make them into tea, use in cooking or even make a mouthrinse if you feel a ‘tickle’ in your throat.

Remember, let food be your medicine!

References:

[1] http://www.unmc.edu/publicrelations/media/press-kits/chicken-soup/research.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072821
[3] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1575505.stm
[4] http://www.naturalnews.com/033888_broccoli_sprouts.html
[5] http://nutritionfacts.org/video/broccoli-sprouts-vs-supplements/

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.

Expert:

Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!

Expert:

Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans